August 25, 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of canned foods. Back in 1810, Peter Durand of London, England (see photo) was granted British patent No. 3372 for his method preserving animal and vegetable foods via the use of tinplate containers.
Proving that he was a better inventor than businessman, Durand sold the patent for L1000 to Bryan Donklin and John Hall who set up the first canmaking factory and cannery in South London to produce goods for the British Admiralty (navy).
The canned goods proved to be a success, as the health of the crews was greatly improved. In fact, canned goods found in the 1930s from a 100-year-old expedition were still found to be safe to eat.
In North America, Thomas Kensett and Ezra Daggett set up a food preserving company in 1819 using glass bottles. Once tinplate cans were adopted the technique became more commercially successful, with canning plants for products such as condensed milk being set up in the 1850s.
Nowadays, the global industry manufactures over 400 billion canned food and drinks products a year.
But Peter Durand didn’t invent canned food. Frenchman Nicolas Appert started experimenting with the preservation of foods in 1804, using sealed glass bottles. In 1809, he had succeeded and presented his findings to the French government, but it required that his findings be published. His findings appeared in 1810 under the title L’Art de Conserver pendant plusieurs années toutes les Substances Animales et Végétales (The Art of Preserving All Kinds of Animal and Vegetable Substances) and Appert was presented with a 12,000 Franc award. He was also awarded a gold medal from the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (Society for the Encouragement of National Industry).
Appert used the award to finance his canning factory at Massy, south of Paris, which continued to operate until 1933. In France, he is celebrated by the canning process being called Appertization.
Another Frenchman, Phillipe de Girard, has been shown to have first demonstrated canned foods at the Royal Society in London in January 1811. In registering the patent, Durand had acted as an agent for de Girard during the time when France was at war with England.
Key canmaking facts include: